Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
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What is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Hormone replacement therapy is when oestrogen is taken to replace declining oestrogen levels caused by menopause. Not all women choose to take HRT to treat their menopausal symptoms. However, those who find symptoms particularly hard to deal with can find that taking oestrogen or a combination of oestrogen and progesterone can be very effective in relieving menopausal signs.
What Causes Menopause
Menopause is a natural part of the aging process. Many women go through menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. It is when your periods begin to lessen or stop completely, and you can no longer naturally become pregnant.
‘The change’, happens when women’s hormones reduce as your ovaries stop producing as much oestrogen. Other factors which can cause menopause to begin include chemotherapy, the removal of the ovaries in surgery or some treatments for breast cancer.
Some women can experience premature menopause, which is when your period stops before the age of 45.
Symptoms of Menopause
Women tend to experience an array of symptoms whilst going through menopause. The symptoms can last for several years. Some menopausal symptoms can interfere with daily life and be quite severe. The most common signs of menopause are:
- Low mood, anxiety or depression
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flushes and night sweats
- Reduced libido
- Difficulty remembering
Menopausal symptoms are caused by a natural reduction in hormones. Your ovaries begin to produce less oestrogen and progesterone the older you become. Generally, by your mid-40s your periods will have become either longer or shorter, and by your 50s stop completely. This is due to your ovaries beginning to reduce the production of eggs.
What Are The Different Types of HRT Available
There are two forms of hormone replacement therapies available: combined HRT or Oestrogen-only HRT. Combined HRT treatments such as Kliovance, Premique, Evorel, Elleste Duet and Femoston are more commonly prescribed, as you can only take oestrogen-only if you have had your womb removed. This is due to a link between oestrogen and womb cancer. Popular oestrogen only HRT are Elleste Solo, Premarin and Zumenon.
HRT Patches can also provide effective relief from symptoms and are safe and easy to use. Evorel Conti HRT Patches, Evorel, Estradot, Elleste Solo MX and Evorel Sequi are commonly prescribed HRT patches.
Both forms of hormone replacement can come in the form of skin patches such as Estradot, tablets, gel or implants. You will be prescribed the lowest effective dose possible. HRT treatment is safe to use until your symptoms become easier to handle.
A doctor will be able to help you decided which form of HRT is most suitable for you. Usually, the treatment will take a few weeks to produce any results. That is why doctor’s will recommend to continue using the HRT for up to three months to allow it time to work.
What are the HRT Side Effects?
When a hormone replacement treatment is first taken, is can create side effects. Usually, side effects will improve over time as your body becomes accustomed to the medication. Both the combined HRT and oestrogen only HRT have their own potential side effects.
Side effects of oestrogen-only HRT:
- Swelling of the body and breast tenderness
- Indigestion or nausea
- Vaginal spotting
Side effects of progesterone HRT:
- Low mood or depression
- Vaginal spotting
- Tummy or back pain
If you are worried about any side effects, or if they are beginning to interfere with your daily life visit your doctor for advice. It may be that your dose is too high, or an alternative treatment needs to be used.
According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines, the risks of HRT are small. However, it is recommended to always understand the risk of a treatment before beginning it.
Combined oestrogen and progesterone HRT is associated with a risk of breast cancer. It is estimated that the risk of breast cancer is reduced back to normal after 5 years of finishing treatment. Combined hormone replacement is also associated with a very small risk of heart disease.
Oestrogen only HRT is thought to increase the risk of womb cancer. The link between womb cancer and oestrogen HRT is why women with ovaries are not given oestrogen only treatment. Instead, you will be most likely prescribed the combined HRT pill.
Both forms of hormone replacement tablets can increase your rise of blood clots. HRT patches or gels, however, do not have this associated risk. The evidence of these small risks has made some doctors reluctant to prescribe HRT.
Nonetheless, the national health institute says that the benefits of HRT treatment outweighs the minimal risk. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about any of them possibilities outlined above.
Getting diagnosed with Menopause
Many women prefer to go and see their doctor for advice when they notice the first signs of menopause. Your doctor will be able to confirm whether you are going though menopause by discussing your symptoms and taking a blood test. The blood sample will show them your hormone levels.
If you are concerned you may be going through premature menopause, your doctor will be able to make a diagnosis according to your family history and blood tests is well. Being told you are going through premature menopause can be upsetting for women as it can effect the ability to naturally have children. There are a range of support groups women can turn to for advice and help such as The Daisy Network which is for women who are experiencing premature ovarian failure.
Buy HRT Treatment
Our UK based pharmacy stocks a variety of hormone replacement treatments. Simply fill in an online consultation with one of our qualified pharmacists, and they will prescribe the most appropriate hrt pills for your needs.